<< The Body Politic

The Parent’s Perspective

Monday, October 4th, 2010

By Mark O’Keefe

Parents of school-age children can find plenty to be concerned about in a just-released AEI report on citizenship that surveyed 866 public and 245 private high school social studies teachers.

What stood out for me is the lack of importance teachers put on learning some of the vital facts and principles that have made this country the envy of the world. What’s even worse is social studies teachers’ assessment of what their students are actually learning.

For example:

  • Only 64 percent of teachers say it is “absolutely essential” to “understand such concepts as federalism, separation of powers and checks and balances.” Only 15 percent are “very confident most students” at their high school have learned about this by the time they graduate.
  • Only 50 percent of teachers say it’s absolutely essential “to understand economic principles like supply and demand, and the role of market incentives.” Only 11 percent are very confident most students at their high school have such an understanding when they are handed their diplomas.
  • Only 36 percent of teachers say it’s absolutely essential “to know facts (e.g., the location of the 50 states) and dates (e.g., Pearl Harbor)” and a stunningly low 7 percent are very confident most of their students have learned this by graduation.

Read the full report here.

Mark O’Keefe is director of online communications and strategy at AEI.

AEI